Transcript of Karle Wilson Baker

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture, and education.

Karle Wilson Baker was Texas's most celebrated poet in the first half of the twentieth century.

Born in Arkansas in 1878, Baker followed her parents to Nacogdoches in her early twenties. She soon fell under the spell of her adopted state, writing about the role of Texans in the American drama.

In her novel Family Style, she portrays the impact of the East Texas oil boom on a single, small community. Another novel, Star of the Wilderness, is set against the backdrop of the Texas revolution.

But Baker was best known for her poetry. Writer Dorothy Scarborough praised Baker's attention to the details of ordinary lives, describing her as the "singer of quiet things." Baker's collection of poems Dreamers on Horseback was nominated for the 1931 Pulitzer Prize.

Baker was a popular professor at Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College. In 1952, she became a charter member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Baker died in 1960. Her early poem "The Tree" describes her lifelong commitment to writing: "My life is a tree . . . pledged . . . to stand hard against the storm. . . . / (But high in the branches of my / green tree there is a wild bird singing: / Wind-free are the wings of my bird: / She hath built no mortal nest.)"

More information about Karle Wilson Baker and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.